Laurel

Laurel sat in her throne atop a dais that looked down into a courtyard. There, half-clad men cavorted as they thrust spears at one another and sparred with swords. Some forwent using weapons and fought each other with bare hands. Villagers from the valley came to watch the spectacle. It was quite the event, they whispered–the games in which the victor would win Princess Laurel’s hand.

Laurel sighed. She had never wanted this—it had all been her father’s idea. He had wanted a son, but got Laurel instead. Now he wanted grandsons, and he was determined Laurel would provide them.

The days wore on. There were mock-battles and races, feats of strength and wit. Laurel watched all of it from the unyielding perch of her throne. After six days had passed, a victor was proclaimed. He came to kneel at her feet and to declare his undying love and protection of her.

Laurel looked away. As if it were possible to love someone you barely knew. He loved the idea of her, or of the power their marriage would bring him. He didn’t love her, or she him.

Laurel surprised her father in requesting the wedding take place as soon as possible. She didn’t want to delay the inevitable, she told him. What she didn’t tell him was that the moon was waxing, and the stars were favorably aligned. It needed to happen soon, or not at all. Her father was happy to oblige, and so Laurel and her suitor were married the following day.

The festivities lasted until the sun had set. And when everyone expected the couple to retire to their bedchamber, Laurel instead pulled her new husband to a moonlit garden. She could feel his gaze upon her as they walked. Soon, she told him. Soon. So they walked on until they came to a secluded grove of olive and juniper trees.

Once she stopped, her husband put his arms around her. Yet before he could bring his lips to hers, Laurel spoke the words she had been saving—words she had heard in the trickling of streams and in the echoes of the wind. Words she had kept to herself, saving them for when they were needed.

As she spoke them, the young man’s skin hardened and his hands formed into branches. Laurel freed herself from his embrace, watching as the bark overtook his face and the man that had once proclaimed his devotion to her was no longer recognizable in the tree that now stood before her.

Laurel listened as the wind stirred in the branches, then she turned and disappeared into the night.

 


19 Comments

  1. Her father really should have listened to her – she sounds like a very powerful young lady.
    Tasha
    Tasha’s Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

  2. Hi Sara, sorry I haven’t been by lately, A to Z has been such a busy time. This is quite a story. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about it – she clearly had to do something, but I’m kind of sorry for the young man! I really love “in the trickling of the streams and the echoes of the wind.” 🙂

    • Sara C. Snider

      Hi Sue! I totally get it, I’ve been way behind in visiting blogs too. Glad you could stop by! And feeling sorry for the young man is a perfectly acceptable response. 🙂

  3. Ooops, all the while thoughts were lurking and languishing in her pretty little head. Beautifully dark and ominous thank you Sara!

  4. A reverse Daphne! Love it 🙂 I always wondered if all those princesses given away really wanted to get married to the hero in the first place…

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Epics from A to Z
    MopDog – 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

    • Sara C. Snider

      Thanks, Csenge. I knew you’d pick up on that. 😉 And I can’t imagine all of them were thrilled (maybe some, though, hehe).

  5. Interesting twist on the myth! The victor wears a crown of leaves whether he wants to or not…

  6. Jennifer Tyron

    Hah, good catch on the name there Craig. I feel awful for the boy. I thought Laurel was going to turn herself…but there it is. Perhaps she changes her name to Anise and lives out the rest of her life in the woods, perhaps?

  7. A desperate, but long prepared response.
    Sophie
    Sophie’s Thoughts & Fumbles
    FB3X
    Wittegen Press

  8. Hi Sara – I love the way the tale turned .. and now what did Laurel do .. and generally what happened to her father, did the young man bear fruit from the tree .. fascinating stuff .. cheers Hilary

    • Sara C. Snider

      You know, for some reason I find it highly entertaining to ponder whether or not the tree bore fruit. 😛 Thanks, Hilary.

  9. Ah, and here I thought this was going to tie into the history of laurel branches in some way! Nice piece. I admire the work you’ve put into writing all these lyrical stories.

  10. wow! she is one scary lady. i kind of feel sorry for the guy. it was her father that was the jerk.

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